After hiking over 500 miles with a baby (between our two kids), we’ve learned a thing or two about hiking with a baby. Exposing both of our kids to nature and adventure at an early age through hiking was very important to us. However, the logistics of hiking with a baby can feel overwhelming. With the unpredictability of an infant, in regards to pretty much everything (feeding, sleeping, changing, fussiness, etc.), and the logistics of hiking with a baby (supporting their head, carrying all your/their gear, protecting them from the sun, etc.), going on a hike with a baby can seem impossible. However, with the right mindset, gear, practice and dedication, it can be done successfully. Here are our top 5 tips for hiking with your baby.
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#1 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Flexible Attitude
When it comes to most aspects of life, including hiking with your infant, attitude really is everything. Be patient and flexible with your adventure. Know that your baby will be in charge and you are going to just have to go with the flow. When our babies fall asleep in the carrier, we hike as far as we can. When they need to eat or are fussy, we stop and take our breaks. We stop as much needed and there is no limit to the number of breaks we take.
For example, on a 10 + mile hike with our daughter as a newborn, the first 6 miles of our hike, we only had to stop twice because she was mainly sleeping but the last 4 miles, we had to 5+ times as she was cluster feeding. If we would have had a rigid attitude about when we were stopping, this would have certainly frustrated us. However, knowing we needed to be flexible and that we were going to roll with the punches set us up for success.
#2 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Set Realistic Expectations
Not only is having a flexible attitude important but also setting realistic expectations. Everything takes longer with an infant, including hiking (and even writing this post) so set realistic expectations in regards to how long a hike will take you. For example, when we set out on a long hike with our son at 7 weeks (and 2 year old toddler) along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we knew that between stopping to feed, changing his diaper, doing tummy time with him, etc, it may take us twice as long to complete the hike as it normally would without him (or our toddler). In reality, it didn’t take quite that long, but it was better to mentally prepare for a longer day than a shorter one. Having these realistic expectations prior to starting a hike helps you have a better experience.
#3 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Do a Trial Hike
Before going on a long hike, try out a shorter hike. We started with a 2 mile hike with our carrier at a nearby park with our daughter and then did the same thing with our son. This helped us navigate using our carrier with our baby and bringing all of our supplies with us. It also helped us figure out when we were ready to do some longer hikes with each baby.
With our babies, we were ready to do some longer hikes with them around 6 weeks. Both our kids sleep great (our son actually better than at home) hiking. However, some kids take more time to get use to the carrier. Be sure to test it out on several shorter hikes before committing to a long hike.
#4 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Have the Right Gear
Having high quality gear for hiking with your baby will make a big difference in both your comfort and your baby’s comfort. Here are the items we use and recommend:
Front Carrier: Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Mesh Baby Carrier
Having a comfortable and high-quality carrier is the most important item to invest in for hiking with a baby. This carrier is great because it can be used from 7lbs-45lbs without a separate infant insert. We’ve carried both babies facing inward with this carrier until about 3 months. Then, once both our kids were about 3 months, they only wanted to be carried facing outward in it, even if sleeping. Turns out babies have the worst FOMO! Natalie has also hiked over 12 miles with the Ergobaby on at one time (several times), while also wearing a backpack, comfortably. Further, this specific Ergobaby Carrier has a cool mesh design that helps keep the baby better ventilated. It also has an included head sun/rain cover that comes in handy often.
Beyond hiking, this carrier is great for everyday use. Natalie often has worn it around the house when our babies were fighting sleep. Natalie tried on a lot of different brands of carriers prior to purchasing this one and it is hands down the most comfortable (for both parent and baby) and easiest to use. Some of the other carriers she tried on, especially the Infantino ones, had so many straps and felt very awkward. Make the investment in this carrier.
Switch to Structured Backpack Carrier at 12 Months
Since our daughter turned a year old, we have been using a structured backpack carrier for her. She loves hiking in the backpack carrier and it works better for us with than the Ergo with her being bigger now. The structured backpack carrier make/model (a Sherpani we are borrowing from friends) we use is no longer available but this one is very similar to the one we have and would be the one we would buy if we did not have ours. Natalie has even comfortably carried both kids using each of these carriers at the same time (see above picture).
Diaper Bag: No Reception Club Diaper Bag
We love this diaper bag. It has a very innovative design with shelves that helps keep everything organized which is great while hiking, especially with two little kids. We have hiked hundreds of miles with it and it is very comfortable to wear. Read more about why we love this diaper bag here.
We ordered this rain suit in 12 month size and have used it from 6 months to 20 months between our two kids. It runs on the larger side but with adjustable velcro arm bands and ankle bands, you really can use it for a long time. This has come in clutch on many of our adventures when it starts to rain and allowed us to adventure more with our babies.
Breastfeeding Tops: Bearsland Short Sleeve & Bearsland Long Sleeve Nursing Tops
These nursing tops make breastfeeding anywhere, including the trail, discrete and easy. Natalie lives in them while nursing (traveling and at home) and owns 6 of them. These particular tops are more economical than most other breastfeeding tops which is a plus as well. You may have to try out a couple types of breastfeeding tops before you find one that works for you as the fits can be rather awkward.
Compact Umbrella: UV Protective Compact Umbrella
A compact UV protective umbrella will allow you to create shade wherever you need it while hiking. When we hiked in Hawaii, this was particularly helpful as the sun was plentiful while shade was minimal on many of our hikes. We use it to create shade for our kids while hiking (especially important early on since babies cannot wear sunscreen until 6 months) and to create shady spots for our baby while changing him/her or doing any time out of the carrier. Also, when we have unexpectedly got rained on while hiking, it helps keep our baby nice and dry (in addition to the Baby Rain Suit). This particular umbrella is great because it is compact and UV protective.
Diaper Bags: Munchkin Diaper Bags
You will need to pack out all your diapers. These contain them well in addition to keeping the smell down.
#5 Be Dedicated and Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear
Do not let your anxieties about hiking with your baby paralyze you. To be honest, we were nervous to take our first baby on her first hiking trip. We were mainly fearful of the unknown and what kind of days she would be having on days we planned to do different hikes. However, we are so glad we did not let those anxieties stop us and ripped the bandaid off. We always make our hikes flexible, nothing is set in stone, and everything is on our own time. After hiking hundreds of miles with one or two babies in tow, we couldn’t imagine not bringing them along now.
You CAN Hike with your Baby
Many people told us hiking and travel would not be possible with a baby. However, that is not true. Adventure is still completely possible with a baby. People who say you can’t adventure with your baby are either too scared and/or not dedicated enough to make it happen. Everything takes longer and requires a lot more planning with a baby, but once you accept that fact and work with it, you’ll realize it can be done. The reward and accomplishment of trying and completing traveling adventures with your little one is worth it. It’s never easier but always more memorable.
To read more about our hiking adventures with baby, please see
- Hiking Chapel Basin Loop Pictured Rocks Guide (completed this hike with our 2 year old and newborn)
- Complete What to do Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Guide
- Top 5 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park (completed with 2 year old and newborn)
- Maui with a Baby or Toddler
- Iceland with a Baby Itinerary
- Maui, Hawaii Budget Guide
- Haleakala National Park Guide
- Big Island, Hawaii Budget Guide
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide
- What to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- 1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary
- Top 3 Levada Hikes on Madeira
- 2 Week Norway Road Trip
- One Day in Shenandoah National Park
- What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
We hope this guide helps you plan a hike with your baby. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!
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